Like many cradle Catholics, I grew up praying the Guardian Angel prayer daily with my family. It was my favorite prayer because it was the shortest (and therefore the easiest to learn), the most sing-songy (which filled my poet heart), and the most lucid to my imagination. Every time I said the words “Ever this night, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide,” there was no doubt in my mind that the spiritual being at my side would remain there forever.
As I got older and less prayerful, the sense of my Guardian Angel’s presence dissipated. The childlike faith I once had in my mystical “bff” was replaced with my own ego. I was the controller of my own destiny and nobody, be they carnal or celestial, would tell me how to live my life. I could light and guard, rule and guide myself, thank you very much.
Like all reverts, I eventually came to my senses, through which I discovered the torrential outpouring of God’s love for me. As an adult, I sought reasons for my childhood faith, objective truths that backed up what I believed through faith. For years, I read my way back into Catholicism and with every word of scripture, every written word of the saints I studied, and every act of kindness I experienced by my fellow Catholics in the missionary field, I rediscovered a dependence on my Guardian Angel.
But it wasn’t just him (or her? It’s hard to give them a pronoun since they have no gender). It turns out, there are more angels that you and I likely have swarming around us at any given time. Here’s a list of the non-Guardian angels that have likely interceded in your life at some point:
According to Dr. Peter Kreeft, the “Dominions are Angels of Leadership. They regulate the duties of the angels, making known the commands of God.” As angels of leadership, those who are the leaders of our Church are blessed with the presence of these angels. According to the German stigmatist, Mechtilde Thaller-Schönwerth, “God assigns angels of this choir to persons who must give spiritual guidance as teachers in higher schools of learning, from the pulpit, or in the confessional.” So, teachers, professors, and priests, it is very likely that you have a Dominion looking over your lesson plans and/or preaching notes.
Dr. Kreeft tells us that, “Virtues are known as the Spirits of Motion and control the elements…They govern all nature. When a soul uses its senses to contemplate the mystical realities of God within nature, the Virtues play a part in helping it make that celestial connection. Again, Thaller-Schönwerth asserts after experiencing personal revelations about this choir that, “Some great sinners receive Virtues after their conversion… All persons inclined to the contemplative life should call on this choir.” I like to think that my reversion was sparked by a Virtue. I in turn hope that the Virtues are the instigators of my moments of spiritual epiphany.
“Every diocese, every kingdom, every religious community has its own angel taken from this choir,” wrote Thaller-Schönwerth.
Catholic.org describes these angels as Warrior Angels that defend the cosmos and humans against evil. They are known as potentates. They fight against evil spirits who attempt to wreak chaos through human beings.” If you’ve ever experienced temptation, then you’ve likely felt the presence of Powers defending your purity against the demons who tempt you toward choosing sin.
Catholic Online tells us that “The principalities care for earthly principalities, that is, cities and nations and kingdoms.” They are, then, like the divine united nations that keep countries from harm. Thaller-Schönwerth takes it a step smaller and claims that “Each parish has its own angel, who is taken from the choir of the Principalities,” which means not only are there angels protecting our country, but there are even more assigned individually to protect our local parishes with whom we commune with every time we celebrate Mass, attend catechism, or simply pray in what we think is an “empty” pew.
The Archangels have a unique role as God’s messenger to the people at critical times in history and salvation (Tb 12:6, 15; Jn 5:4; Rv 12:7-9) as in The Annunciation and Apocalypse. They are the most mentioned angels in Scripture and, if they are that present in God’s written word to us, how much more must they be present in our current times. With all the craziness our world is currently experiencing, the Archangels are surely playing a pivotal role in relaying the spiritual messages that the faithful need to hear. Every time we ask St. Michael to, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all of the evil spirits that prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls,” he does it, as do the legions of archangels under his command.
Of course, there are other types of angels not mentioned in this article such as the Seraphim and the Cherubim, who likely have had no contact with you whatsoever. Their jobs are primarily to praise God and surround His throne with their eternal hymns of praise. In fact, there are likely a multitude of angelic tribes that we know nothing about, most of which whisper (or shout) the eternal treasures of God’s love to us in every thought, emotion, sense, and experience of our earthly life.
With such a powerful cloud of witnesses, how could we possibly feel alone in the spiritual life?
Kreeft, Dr. Peter, Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them? Ignatius Press, 1995
Von Loma, Frederick, The Angels, Our God-given Companions and Servants, Ave Maria Institute, 1935
The Nine Choirs of Angels, Catholic Online, https://www.catholic.org/saints/angels/angelchoir.php